There are some places in Alaska that are just plain unique. These idyllic locations separate themselves from even the most popular Alaska fisheries. Their lore lives largely through the tales told by those that have been there, as most have not.
One of these places is Big River Lake on the West Side of Cook Inlet. Beginning in late July, the lake and its slow moving tributaries attract thousands of fresh coho. What follows can easily be characterized as some of the most remarkable still water salmon fishing in all of South Central Alaska. Due to their relatively short journey from salt, the newly arriving coho enter the lake within hours of leaving the ocean. Clear water outlets that feed the lake and its tributaries are magnets for the fresh salmon. Sensing their natal gravel, they amass by the thousands. With unmatched intensity, they will pursue and attack nearly anything in their path.
When Lamiglas called and asked me to take a group of outdoor writers on a day or two of fishing in late August, I immediately thought of this location. After generous clearance from Alaska West Owner/Pilot Doug Brewer, I met the guys and we flew out to some of the best silver salmon fishing Alaska has to offer. I explained that the choice of flies was wide open. Pink Crystal Flash Flies and Bead-Headed Tinsel Nymphs will absolutely get bit on every cast. And then there’s the visually enticing, but less consistent top water flies, the most popular being the Pink Wog. All three insisted on fishing top water polly wogs and over the next 3-4 hours, these experienced fly casters brought countless silver salmon to the surface and over a hundred to hand. With multitudes of schooling silvers roaming the shallows around the boat, a long cast and subsequent retrieve would sometimes yield more than a half dozen takes. Truth be known, this fishery requires very little experience to master. Even first time fly casters can become seasoned pros with this many fish to target. This particular day was exceptional yet not unlike most days to this silver salmon paradise. Throughout August and into early September, these still water schools will amaze visitors with their strong numbers and sheer ferocity. All you really need is a good pilot, a good guide, and the Wog!
Above: STS editor Nick Amato used a Lamiglas EC907 fly rod to land one of many top water coho.